This morning brought to mind a blog post I saw recently where the writer claimed she hated summer because of two reasons; one of them being bugs. In her post, she had placed a picture of a screened door with an adult praying mantis clinging to the outside of it. I can say with confidence that she would be ecstatic about that praying mantis if she knew about the bugs around our house. I know she probably has more than just that praying mantis hanging around, but seriously, Furryland has been invaded with all sorts of new and different bugs this season. And frankly, they are starting to get on our very last nerves!
First, there were these teeny, tiny gnat-like, flying bugs covering the outside of our house last spring. We noticed them when we were inside looking out the storm door, as they were all over the window. They were so small, you couldn’t even take a picture of them (I tried without success), and when you walked around the house to where they were swarming and got close enough, they would take a bite out of you. And it hurt! But you never saw them! I tell ya, they were as small as a grain of sand or sugar… very tiny. After much research, we decided they were biting midges a.k.a. no-see-ums, and DH sprayed down our house with insecticide. That took care of that!
At the same time, little pantry beetles started invading (about as big as a fruit fly). They starting showing up on our counters, walls, in cabinets, on the inside of the windows, in the spaghetti, rice, macaroni, flour — inside our home! These are normal pests, so I found out, but extremely annoying. Not so exciting, so no pictures, but we ended up throwing out a lot of dry goods, and placing all the rest into air-tight plastic containers.
Around this time, we also had ants crawling in at the corner of our front door. Not regular black anthill ants, but the much smaller version of those ants. There was one steady line of them coming in from the outside to Oliver’s food dish, which we kept near the front door in order to keep him away from Misty’s food (or he’d eat hers and she would starve). These ants were difficult to eradicate! They were only a slight nuisance, but my boys had fun with them when they made a game of sucking them up with the vacuum cleaner hose. DH did something to hopefully get rid of them, and they eventually disappeared.
The grasshoppers believe that Furryland is grasshopper central — definitely the place to be if you are a grasshopper! (The species above is a differential grasshopper.) Thankfully, they don’t get in the house, but the crickets do! For the past few weeks, we have been overrun with crickets, and they’re getting in, hiding under cabinets and any little crevice they can squeeze into, and chirping constantly. Yesterday, I think I heard three of them chirping in one area of our house at the same time! It’s driving my DH insane, too! Just last night, he removed the broiler pan from our oven to find one, moved both the upright freezer and the washer and dryer to get at a couple, and was crawling around on his hands and knees trying to find one that escaped after the boys went to bed. Now that was humorous!
Referring to the incessant chirping, he asked me, “Doesn’t that bother you?”
“No,” I replied, “I’m not really paying attention to it.” Honestly, I didn’t hear it because I had tuned it out. (Which happens to be a wonderfully helpful skill I learned back in my rebellious teen years!)
We’ve also had our share of moths this summer. Little tan moths fluttering all around our house both day and night. Just recently, my teen found out where they were coming from, so we disposed of the source immediately, and their numbers are finally starting to dwindle to the point that they may be disappearing. Note to self: Gathering leftover cow corn from the fields is fun after the harvest (to feed the birds in winter), but they must be stored outside; NOT in the house!
Black widows — UGH! After we found the immature female on the pool cover (a few posts back), DH found a huge mature widow in the wagon under the seat (which he took to work in a baby food jar to terrorize his co-workers). Then a couple nights ago, we deflated the pool because there were wiggly red larvae on the pool toys which were sitting on the bottom of the pool. They were not mosquito larvae, but may have been red midge larvae, although I’m not sure. Whatever they were, they were gross. Hence, the reason we drained the pool. The pool toys ended up in a bucket of bleach.
A couple nights ago, we found this lovely surprise under the steps at the back door. You think we need an exterminator? Yeah, I was thinking the same thing! Upper left is the first shot where mama widow was tending to her three egg sacs when we found her. Upper right is a shot of one of the young widows in the web with mama and eggs sacs blurred in the background. After we knocked down mama in her web with her egg sacs (left), my FIL torched her (right). That’s how we get rid of black widow egg sacs when we find them — or we just stomp on the spider itself if there are no egg sacs present. We squished the young widow with a stick before we knocked down the web. I know… I know!!! EWWWW!!!! (By the way, you can click on those pictures to see them full size, if you dare…)
Now we’re just looking forward to the red-headed fruit fly (a huge nuisance because you can’t cook or eat in the kitchen — anywhere in the house, really — without one or five of them trying to land on your food) and ladybug invasions (we can live with them… in fact, my youngest likes to treat them as pets), which are still to come this autumn.
Regardless of the bad bugs, there are wonderfully good bugs around here, too. Like butterflies. Those at the beginning of this post are white checkered and silver-spotted skippers. In my opinion, one’s yard can never have enough butterflies flitting about. Or praying mantises quietly stalking their prey (the mantis above perched on my teen’s fingers is a Chinese mantis, and the next one is a Carolina mantis), or dragonflies flying about hunting down smaller bugs at dusk.
Above is an immature male common whitetail dragonfly. Below is the adult female of the same species. When the male becomes an adult, his abdomen will turn a whitish-blue color, but for now they both look quite similar, except for the patterns on their wings. Fascinating, isn’t it? I actually didn’t know these two were different when I took their pictures yesterday until I downloaded them onto the computer. I started researching them for identification, and when I found out one was male and the other was female, it made my day! Hope you enjoy them as much as I do! 🙂